Virtual reality startup Shiftfall has unveiled a unique face-mounted microphone. Mutalk looks similar to a VR headset, but for the mouth. Playing VR games already looks silly enough to the followers. Adding this crazy device takes it to a whole other level of weirdness.
Mutalk looks funny but has a practical purpose. When designing the device, Shiftfall was looking for a way to simultaneously solve the problem of attenuating the ambient noise around the user, while reducing his voice for people nearby, hence Mutalk – mute and talk.
Shiftfall claims its device uses a Helmholtz resonator to achieve an average of -20db attenuation of external and internal sounds. For higher frequencies, such as screaming, Mutalk can attenuate noise levels by 30db. For users, this means their gaming chatter can be muted so as not to disturb loved ones, while teammates can hear them clearly with ambient noise reduced or eliminated.
The Mutalk microphone isn’t just for VR. Honestly, it looks a bit less funny when used without the strap. The device is muted when placed with the mouthpiece facing up, such as on a desk. Picking up Mutalk and holding it to their lips allows users to chat privately without disturbing colleagues.
Shiftall says you can also use the Mutalk as a hands-free Bluetooth headset with up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge thanks to the 3.5mm headphone jack. However, I don’t see many people opting for this option over a decent set of noise canceling headphones with a mic. It’s too cumbersome to be practical.
It’s also hard to imagine many people wearing this thing instead of a regular headset when playing online. Muting sometimes loud and obscene conversations is an attractive feature, but the microphone seems too bulky and uncomfortable for anyone to carry around willingly.
Shiftall plans to start selling the device in the US this summer for $200 – another point of contention that is unlikely to win Mutalk fans.